Writer of Horror Fiction

Review of Craig DiLouie’s “Tooth and Nail”

Tooth and Nail is blistering fast military-focused thrill ride into the apocalypse.  I scanned some of the other reviews and a comment that comes up with some frequency is that the nemesis here are not technically zombies.  From a purist perspective, that is certainly true.  The Hong Kong Lyssa Virus does not kill its victims…the ones that go “Mad Dog”, as they are called, have symptoms similar to someone infected with rabies…along the lines what we saw with 28 Days Later and Rec, as far as movies are concerned.  They are fast, they are lethal, and their desire is to spread the virus rather than devour the living, although they are not above tearing someone apart that gets in their way.  The effect of this is that the author went to some pretty good lengths to detail out this virus and its effect, giving it a realistic edge where the science felt pretty solid.
That is not where the realism in this tale stops.  The story focuses on Charlie Company, who are stationed in Manhattan, guarding one of the hospital where Lyssa patients are being attended to.  As the story starts, the city is already on lock down.  The U.S. troops have been recalled from all across the globe to deal with the growing threat in America and we are just getting a small taste of what these Mad Dogs are capable of.  The Lyssa Virus itself is just like any other flu, or so it seems, but with a small percentage of those getting sick turning into rabid killers.  But that number is increasing as it is discovered that this isn’t just an airborne virus and the Mad Dogs are growing as a part of the sick population at an exponential rate.  At the same time we are seeing what Charlie Company is up against, we are also introduced to a research facility in Manhattan, where a Russian Doctor is discovering the truth about the virus and more specifically, the Mad Dogs, and trying desperately to come up with a vaccine or cure.
Craig DiLouie has created a very tightly knit story here with a great deal of depth of detail when it comes to military protocol and actions.  Since I haven’t served in the military, I can’t attest to the specific accuracy of everything, but clearly, the author knows his stuff.  There is no one single main character here, instead, the cast is more like an ensemble and the story reminded me, in parts, of the movie “Black Hawk Down”, where it seems at every turn things are getting worse and worse and the local population is turning more savage by the minute as the military tries to complete their mission.  Despite the lack of a main character, the author did a great job of providing the reader with some fully fleshed out characters that were easy to grow attached to for me.  Their interactions felt real and natural given the circumstances, not awkward or forced.  If I had a complaint about this story, it was with the tense change that occurred at a few points of the story.  I can understand the merits of going present tense with a book that moves at the hectic pace of this one, but there are some parts of the book that are in past tense and others in present, which is a shift that isn’t always easy to adapt to as a reader.  Despite this minor quibble, the book is solidly written and the story well paced.  I do hope to see a sequel to this book, but it certainly can stand on its own as a excellent entry into the infected/zombie apocalypse genre.

Tooth and Nail can be found at: http://www.amazon.com/Tooth-Nail-Craig-Dilouie/dp/1930486987/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294151082&sr=8-1

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